Some Ideas about Choosing Art Schools

Art Schools

Students are always asking me about what I think about different art schools but I think that the question more is what a student wants or needs from the art school depending on their needs.  In some ways, it’s probably better for some students to attend a state school and double major in something like art and history or economics. Here are some of my ideas about art school.

If you’re going to art school you need to think about the kinds of things that you want to learn while you’re there and also assess your personality and how art school will help you or not help you to reach your goals. So one of the things that you need to do is really think about what your goals are.

If your goals are to learn how to make art and learn the basic principles about how to become an artist, graphic designer, animator, etc. just about any art school will help you. I think that even going to a state school like San Jose state which has an excellent animation program is a very good choice for people who want to learn the basic principles and have various choices in terms of what they can learn and what is available to learn at the college or university. In summary, if you’re someone who just wants to learn how to make art just about any school will teach you how to do this as long as you work really hard and are responsible for your goals.

Something to think about when you are choosing your art school is to go beyond your basic goals of learning how to make art and think about how the art school will help you socially or careerwise. What I’m talking about is that some people are very introverted and all they want to do is make art and they are not interested in the most social aspects of becoming an artist. So the first thing you have to do when you’re choosing an art school is to choose a sort of "art hero" who will help you decide what you need to do.

Art Heroes

For example, some people want to become a famous well-known artist who is socially positioned to sell in really important galleries and have a really important art career in terms of a larger context meaning the art world. If you’re one of those people you should look at some of the artists who have done that such as, David Hockney, Jasper Johns, and performance artists such as Karen Finley and even David Byrne. How much do you know about the art world and how much do you know about how those artists “made it.”

If you study or look at someone you want to be like you can trace their career and see what they did to become successful. For example, David Hockney was the darling of the art school that he attended. He went all kinds of parties and was really social and became sort of famous because he had a big personality not necessarily because his art was any better from anyone else. So a big thing to think about is if you go to an art school are you willing to be a social butterfly and to make sure that you do all the social things that you need to do to get the kind of attention that will lead you to fame. One thing you cannot do is fake this. You cannot be a false person and have people take you seriously. So think about your personality type. Look up some artists that you really like, in terms of their art and in terms of their career and see what they did to become successful. Many times art school has nothing to do with their fame.

Another thing to think about is to look at artists for presently showing in galleries right now whose work you respect. Reverse engineer the work that they are doing and look at where they went to school and their biography. You can do this by going to galleries websites with art that you like and looking at specific artists and googling their names and reading their resumes to see where they went to school and what they did to become successful. Then you can see if the path they took is agreeable to the path you took.

If you are an introverted artist who is not really interested in a lot of the social stuff you live in a Golden age right now where you can actually make a living by selling your art online without having to deal with galleries. Some people will not agree with me on this but I’ve had a very successful career in the last five years just selling my work online and I went to a state school and learned the basic craft.

If you’re someone who wants to learn to paint and draw or make videos or are interested really in the craft of making art you may do better by going to a less expensive school that is not necessarily an art school to learn your craft from individual teachers who you have an affinity for. Sometimes the school does not help make you an artist it’s actually the individual teachers.

The next step you might want to take while deciding what art school to go to would be to research the individual teachers and look at their work and how they teach. You also need to check out their personality by sort of stalking them online and also going to the school and asking individuals who are taking classes with those people right now to see what their experience of the teacher is. However, think critically and reserve judgment until you really have done your due diligence by meeting the professor and looking at what they do. Websites like “Rate my Professor” are actually not very accurate. I can say this because I have pretty high ratings but a lot of haters, students who didn’t like my class and who are lazy also use the website to bag on me. So I think it’s more important that you make a decision yourself and a judgment yourself by doing all the work of checking into who teaches at the school, what their personalities are like and whether or not they’re teaching the kinds of things that you want to learn.

Something to consider also is price and job placement. For example, the art academy in San Francisco is a bit pricey and they claim to help people get jobs but when I checked into the school it may not be as accurate a statement as they would have you believe and a lot of people drop out from the school because they teach one particular method of illustration. There are some really good artist to teach at that school and you could try do study with some of them if you got accepted but you might just do as well by studying privately at an atelier or getting private lessons and majoring in something else while you’re in college like art history that relates to what you’re trying to do.

I suppose my thesis is, most people think that the art school will make you an artist and that the training you receive their will be solely responsible for getting you into the art world and helping you make your career. However there are lots of exceptions to this rule where people of made it on their own just by working hard.

Another thing to consider is that you can learn a lot just by going to Amazon and watching some of the videos that they have that are about artists and their careers. For example, there is one video about a guy named Fritz who tried to make it in the art world in New York in the 60s or 70s and didn’t make it but now in his 70s he has enough money to make art on his own and he’s working on it. He enjoys making art and he is not very well known or famous because that just doesn’t happen for some people but he satisfied making the art.

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